What even IS sexism?!


‘Sexism is about more than someone feeling a bit hurt by a slightly insulting joke’.

Ever made a joke that didn’t get the laughs you thought it would? The fact that everyone has different tastes, standards and experiences can blur the line sometimes. 

While some standards might not be easy to judge, when it comes to gender, actions or words that single people out because of their gender are not only going to insult about half the population but also push this idea that women are somehow ‘inferior to’ men.

16 examples of sexism:

  1. Telling ‘jokes’ using insulting stereotypes that suggest one gender is somehow inferior, for example, overemotional, incompetent, less intelligent, or telling someone to 'stop acting like a girl' when they’re showing sadness or anxiety, or don’t want to do what their mates are into. Man saying actually, that's not funny
  2. Excluding people from situations or conversations because of their gender, for example, ‘we’re talking about sport here, girls – maybe stick to what you know’.
  3. Attempting to insult someone by using gendered stereotypes , for example, ‘what’s the matter, mate, got your period?’ or ‘who wears the pants in that relationship?’
  4. Wolf-whistling, catcalling, making sexual remarks or comments about people’s appearance. Man in car saying nice ass!
  5. Presuming a partner should drop their friends to spend time with you and your mates.
  6. Someone presuming it’s down to them what they do as a couple.
  7. Telling a partner to dress in a certain way to impress others.
  8. Telling people sexism doesn’t exist or that they’re being oversensitive about being unfairly treated because of their gender. For example, saying things like ‘oh she’s just being a feminist…’.
  9. Criticising others for falling outside traditional gender roles, because of someone’s appearance or actions, for example ‘She dresses like a bloke’ or ‘What kind of guy becomes a nurse?’
  10. Making assumptions about who will pay for something based on gender, for example dinner or a movie.
  11. Calling women in power ‘bossy’ or ‘power-hungry’ but men in the same positions ‘leaders’.
  12. Questioning what women who’ve experienced sexual assault were wearing or where they were and at what time of night, instead of asking why the perpetrator committed the crime.
  13. Judging people by different standards depending on their gender, for example ‘not bad for a girl’ or ‘boys will be boys’.
  14. Men talking over women at meetings, presuming they should get more airspace, or assuming they are the best pick for promotion, just because they are a guy or because a woman may choose to have a child.
  15. Men leaving the housework to women, and taking more than their share of leisure time.
  16. Men presuming a sexy outfit means a woman has agreed to sex with whoever fancies her.

To make the sexism line clearer, ask yourself: ‘Is what I’m about to say or do stereotyping or treating someone unfairly because of their gender?’

Not sure what sexism has to do with violence against women?

Research tells us that one of the main things contributing to violence against women is our attitudes towards women and women’s roles in society. For example, the idea that women and men should act in certain ways or are better at certain things based on their gender is an attitude that can lead to violence.

Woman laughing and saying no.

Sexism is about more than someone feeling a bit hurt by a slightly insulting joke. When harmful words and actions are part of what we consider acceptable in our culture, some people – most often women – get a raw deal…

Constantly being the brunt of jokes, or less worthy/equipped to do or know about certain things, constantly being judged on attractiveness or sexual appeal, being told to be careful about dressing or behaving in a certain way to avoid being harassed, attacked or raped – all these things add up to diminish a person’s self-worth and confidence. And that prejudice against women is just not fair. Fairness is the essence of ‘equality’ – giving everybody equal opportunities and respect.

And of course, sexism means different things to different people – depending on someone’s sexuality, religion, ethnicity or cultural identity, disability status or age, these aspects of a person can intersect and ‘stack up’ to create a unique experience of sexism.

Chris Tucker saying Don't laugh, it ain't funny

And no, holding a door open for someone is not always sexist.

But think about why we do these things – just being polite? Would you do exactly the same for a man or woman? We have a long cultural history of believing 'women are the weaker sex' and that a 'gentlemen honours women' by, for example, pulling out their chair at a restaurant, paying for meals, holding doors open for them. ‘Ladies first...’

So before you make that sexist joke or comment, before you catcall or mention how hot someone looks, before you feel like someone is ‘yours’ and you can control what they do, before you assume someone is less qualified to be in a particular job or have an opinion on a certain topic, think about how you’re crossing the sexism line...

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